Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Donald Trump had to start somewhere.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship introduced many teens to the business world with its BizPlan Challenge. After moving on in preliminary competitions, the top contestants went to the feature event at the eMerge Americas Conference in Miami Beach.
Coral Springs High School’s Jason Ramadan took first place for the “Cliff Fall” iOS game, and second went to Piper High’s Kevin Diniz for his “Easy Scholar” mobile app and third to Zack Walsh of Coral Gables Senior High for his CycleLife app.
The finalists will compete for $25,000 in the NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City.
Ramadan launched “Cliff Fall” in August with his cousin, James McLaughlin. The two took inspiration from what made “Flappy Bird” so popular and implemented it into their game, which has users dodging cliffs to see who lasts the longest. This project stood out because his business plan was up and running with more than 50,000 downloads.
Among Ramadan’s highlights was working with mentor Keith Washington, an associate vice president at Royal Caribbean.
“One big thing he did was teach me kaizen, a Japanese business term that basically means continuously growing and improving,” Ramadan said. “… Any time I said that word, everyone loved it.”
Diniz’s “Easy Scholar” is an app he hopes to design over the summer that finds scholarships for users through a survey they take. Through his experience as a senior, he found scholarships many people wouldn’t think are out there.
“This app has motivated me to do more apps. It showed me that even though I’m still young, I can make my own business going into college,” he said.
Nova High School’s Rhyan Nesbeth and Mohammed Islam finished fifth for their Light’em LEDs.
Their idea involved a fan where you can type up and program personalized messages. They found out they’ll have to tweak their model to compete with a wholesaler to get their prototype off the ground. Islam enjoyed his first foray into business competitions.
“Businessmen saw our product and gave us ideas,” he said. “This one guy said if we can make it bigger and then market it to nightclubs, then it would be a nice design for it.”
Scott Fishman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel